Many of you will remember the horrendous floods in Mozambique in 2001 and the famous baby that was born in a tree as a desperate lady waited to be rescued. Sadly the reality is that Mozambique is all too used to atrocious weather conditions and although disaster planning and mitigation has improved over the years, it is still an ongoing issue for one of the poorest countries in the world today that is three times the size of the UK.
A few weeks ago, in mid January, the Zambezia province in central Mozambique experienced horrendous flooding once more. Over hundred people were killed, an estimated 157,000 have been affected with over 10,000 losing their homes. 11 million people north of the Zambezi river have no electricity and many roads were destroyed. Bishop of this area – Mark van Koevering says: “We must have had about a months worth of rain in just one day”.
The local Anglican churches in the Diocese of Niassa, Mozambique has been right at the heart of an emergency response to this crisis through their ‘Teams of Life’. Niassa Diocese is one of the fastest growing dioceses in the Anglican communion and is in the process of multiplication into three. In 2003, there were 7 active priests which has now grown to 61 today; 159 congregations in 2004 has grown to 442 today and 34,465 members in 2004 has grown to 63,973 today.
Staggering statistics in the face of huge difficulties which frankly are a challenge to us all?!
Growth in depth and numbers can be put down to huge variety of factors but one is their formation of ‘Equipas de Vida’ from the diocesan mission department – these ‘Teams of life’. These volunteer teams ‘homegrown’ from the local Anglican churches respond to the most pressing health and development needs of their own communities. The leaders of these teams, initially trained in HIV prevention, treatment and community mobilization are also are trained in health and development issues and so they were best placed to make a fast and strategic disaster response. Over these last weeks, this emergency response has involved supporting 1,000 families across 18 communities with kits of food, water purifying equipment, mosquito nets and farm seeds and implements.
MANNA is a long-standing UK registered charity that exists to enable and grow the churches in Mozambique and Angola and supports the Diocese of Niassa and the ‘Teams of Life.’ Elizabeth Thomas who worships at Marcham Church in the Oxford Diocese has recently come on board as MANNA’s Executive Officer and is delighted that MANNA can support this appeal. She says:
“This is development at its most effective. It is grassroots work that comes from the local churches who know their greatest needs. Moreover MANNA is just one of the mission and development agencies that is working in partnership with the Niassa diocese. It is collaboration together like this that ultimately brings about good long-term change in developing countries; we are simply facilitating these local churches to do God’s work.”
Another one of these partners is ALMA – the London diocese’s links with Mozambique and Angola which in turn has grown some incredibly fruitful partnerships between parishes. How exciting and encouraging that the Anglican church is right at the heart of this emergency appeal and how fitting that we as fellow Christian servants of the Gospel of the poor should partner with these Mozambican churches at this time.
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